Nick Houlehan, a recent graduate of St. Catharine College, has carried his success on campus to the workforce.
Houlehan, who graduated with a degree in criminal justice, landed a job with the police department in Florence, Ky., just two months after commencement.
Florence is a city of around 75,000 residents, Houlehan told Dr. Harry Toder’s class recently. There are 62 officers in the Florence police department.
“You started out in a pretty important position,” Toder said. “You might think that somebody that just graduates with a degree that they would start out in a very small police department. A lot of times that’s the case. But you broke the mold, so to speak.”
Toder asked Houlehan to what degree participating in extracurricular activities helped Houlehan land a job.
“Being a baseball player my whole life, being on a team, in criminal justice everything is a team,” Houlehan said. “When you’re on a police department, as your agency, you will all work together. You have to learn how to communicate with each other.”
Being a part of team means working together even if you don’t like everyone on your team, Houlehan said.
“You might not get along with them, but you have to learn to respect them, you have to learn how to get along with them and be able to work efficiently and effectively,” he said.
Toder also asked Houlehan if grades were the first thing potential employers looked at.
“Grades will get you in the door,” Houlehan said. “If you don’t make good grades, you’re pretty much not going to get looked at. If you don’t graduate with some kind of accolades, you are in the middle of the line starting out.”
As a police officer, Houlehan added that potential recruits have to prove themselves to be in top physical condition and have good interpersonal skills.
The graduate emphasized that the college experience was more than just going through the motions, making passing grades, shaking a few hands at graduation and then receiving a diploma.
“Come to class on time. Do your homework, make sure it gets turned in on time,” he said. “Just be prepared every day. It doesn’t just help you in school; it helps you prepare for life. Because when you go to work, you don’t just go into work and not be prepared.”
For police work and in the workforce in general, Houlehan emphasized maintaining personal integrity.
“You’ve got to look the part; you’ve got to be the part. You’ve got to be professional and you have to have your integrity with you to make sure you’re doing things the right way,” he said. “Integrity is something that you have to have, especially if you want to be in law enforcement.”
Houlehan said having a criminal justice degree helped him out, but knowing how to conduct himself also helped.
“When you walk into an interview, you don’t have your phone out, you don’t chew gum,” he said. “If you’re a man, you clean shave. If you’re a woman, you have your hair fixed in a professional manner. Stand straight up. When I shook everybody’s hand, I looked them in the eye and I said, ‘Hi, how are you doing? It’s nice to meet you. Thank you for having me.’”
Another point that Houlehan added was that education doesn’t stop with a college degree.
“If you stop learning in college, you’re kind of hurting yourself,” he said. “You’re really hurting yourself if you don’t educate yourself.”
Houlehan spoke to many of Toder’s classes, emphasizing the need to get good grades, participate in extracurricular activities and to maintain integrity.